Observations from my most recent business trip…
Here is what my day is like so far: up at 8 in the morning except my body thinks it’s 5 because I have only been where I am for thirty-six hours. Meetings for seven hours where I have to be alert, creative, thoughtful and demanding, also nice so that my client doesn’t fire me. Then to the airport. This particular airport, unlike 90% of the other airports in the country still wants my toiletries out of my bag so there must ensue squatting and shuffling in line while I unlock my bag to remove my 3-1-1 (that would be nothing in more than a 3oz container in exactly 1, 1 quart bag). God forbid I need more product than what can fit in a one quart bag. On the plane to sit on the tarmac while the storm blows through. The connection is very likely missed but maybe, maybe we will make it. Off the plane with zero time to make the connection except the orbitz alert did say it was delayed so maybe, maybe. Chicago o’Hare is there to do what they can to make sure you are not living a sedentary life, even with escalators and people movers and me jogging and hopping the whole way (in a very comfortable heal) it is a ten minute journey from the arrival gate to the maybe departure gate. The plane was still there, the pilot was in a snit about something and yes they would put me on, but they would not promise to wait for my husband (who is also my business partner) and who was trailing me in the airport marathon. ‘Get on,’ they said, ‘my husband,’ I said, ‘when the pilot says go we close the door,’ they said. The door closed, the paperwork was run (apparently this is the magic part that make sit impossible to let you on the plane even if the f-ing jet bridge is still connected) and my husband arrived (the delay was the bag that had to be gate checked because the teeny tiny plane could not fit bags in the overhead compartment, even European sized bags like what we use, and they were not speedy in getting the gate checked bags out). ‘Please,’ I said, ‘the door is closed,’ they said, ‘but the plane is right there,’ I said, ‘here are your tickets for the next flight,’ they said. Thank you o’Hare I wasn’t feeling tired at all, I would love to walk back to the other terminal, really fast because what with delays and all the next flight is leaving really soon and is, according to my ticket, boarding now. Just kidding, in-bound flight delay means we are delayed over an hour. And now the search for airport food at a time of night when the restaurants are closing and everyone still travelling is drunk, grumpy or a combination thereof. Two and half hours later I am airborne, winging my way west to home, to bed, my bed that I have slept in for five nights in the last 50. I should be home and in bed around 3 in the morning, I hope.
The truth is I love the work I do and travel is just part of it, but this is my day today and this is a lot of my travel days because that is what travel is like. I have been doing this kind of work for about four years, before that my work did not require a lot of travel. I would go to my office and maybe go to a conference not very often.
My husband, who has been my husband for nearly twenty years and my business partner for almost six has travelled for work with some regularity for the last fourteen years. Sometimes more, sometime less but if we amortized it out over the fourteen years I would say one week in every six. When he first started working in a way that required travel we had a toddler. Toddlers are exhausting, wonderful but exhausting in every possible way. He would go away, I would stay home and it would seem, from my perspective like he was getting a break. There were hotels where someone picked up after you and brought you food, there was uninterrupted sleep, there were parties with other adults and adult conversation. It wasn’t so much envy as it was wishing he understood the perk he was getting. He did not see it that way.
Sometimes, most of the time, you just don’t know something until you have experienced it. You can think you understand the whole situation and until you have been in all of the parts of the situation you just can’t, but you don’t know that until the perspective changes and you have had the new experience. Of course I have apologized for the naive assumption and lingering resentment about his “vacations.” I was a jerk, I get that. We don’t always travel together now and so I have an opportunity to be different not just when it affects me, I hope that means something. But I understand now in a way I couldn’t before. I was in a beautiful place, having cocktails in the warm summer air of the southern atlantic coast, enjoying a meal with good company, I had fresh towels when I got back to my room exhausted from the day, and had to get up and do it again in the morning. It was a good trip and it wasn’t a vacation.